Here's the grabber: "The money and power is in the hands of the social networking sites right now."
Makes me wish I was 25 again.
Here's the grabber: "The money and power is in the hands of the social networking sites right now."
Makes me wish I was 25 again.
The big Supercomm telecommunications event famously split into two shows last year, one run by the Telecommunications Industry of America association, the other by United States Telecom Association.
Now it seems as if a cadre exhibitors at the two shows are working on a joint effort to try and get those two shows back together again.
This came to us from Phil Harvey at Light Reading.
A group of equipment vendors is starting to pressure the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) to consider reconciling on the divorce that broke up the industry's largest tradeshow, Supercomm.
What's at stake? Several vendors are threatening to pull their exhibit dollars from TelecomNext in 2007 unless USTelecom and TIA can find a way to work together. TelecomNext, held annually in Las Vegas, is USTelecom's show, and Globalcomm, held in Chicago, is the TIA's effort.
The draft of a remarkable letter has surfaced that brings the issue to a boil -- and if the vendors listed in the letter stay true to the expressed sentiment, it could have a huge impact on both the TelecomNext and Globalcomm shows in the future. More...
Hey show managers... listen to your customers.
We agree, but not necessarily for the same reasons - or at least not by arriving from the same path of reasoning.
Rick Geritz of BD Metrics was kind (and patient) enough to listen to some of my rants last night regarding my feelings on how organizers have historically been willing to sell exhibitors anything and everything regardless if had any tangible or intrinisic value. To put it another way, while many marketers are looking at the long tail, most show organizers were selling innies, which as we know, collect lint.
For those who don't know, BD Metrics is (more or less) a data management company that works with organizers to mine registration data in such a way (using a patent pending methodology) as to divine who the true prospects are from a show floor of potential tirekickers. That's simplifying things a bit, but it would take a detailed discussion to get into it. Visit their website if you want to know the hows and whys.
While the value to both exhibitors and organizers of realistic, accurate, parseable data from show attendees is undeniable, of all the things Rick told me last night, one thing stood out: a significant percentage of attendees were going into the BD Metrics dashboards for the events they were attending and ALTERED THEIR REGISTRATION INFORMATION.
Because they had either over or under exaggerated their demographic info, hoping to influence the information they'd receive. Once the organizer gave them INFORMATION OF VALUE based on their stated preferences, the attendees realized they were dealing with a show organizer that actually GAVE A DAMN about their needs and their time.
So they dropped their guards and turned over data relating to their actual needs. Quid pro quo.
To me, that's a indicator of how we as an industry can regain the trust of attendees - and by extension, exhibitors - that we've managed to burn these many years.
We've always said that the easiest way to boost exhibit and ancillary revenue is to pay attention to attendee needs. BD Metrics has developed a system of collecting data that allows organizers to do exactly that. While not cheap (and hopefully we'll have more about that later), it's a process that's eminently worthwhile for show organizers serious about staying in business in the long term.
Think about it.
Had a nice seat near the front of the room for the opening keynote... but shortly discovered there was no power except for one outlet in the back. So here I am, just a chair and my lap in the back of the room.
Note to designers/architects/builders of convention centers... please provide accessibility to power (in addition to FREE wireless... paying a ridiculous $4.95/hour for a teeny pipe... usurious).
After the traditional attendee introductions, Paul Mackler, CEO of Cygnus Business Media, started things off by citing that the environment for show producers has changed. So has Paul, apparently. While I don't know him well and never actually worked with him, he had a reputation as a tough manager who focused primarily on sales results, no excuses. Now, like many former sales revenue-focused show producers, he's preaching the value of customer-centric business practices.
His message for the morning was to accept that the market is evolving. "Those who embrace change and adapt to an evolving marketplace will succeed," says one of his opening slides.
Mackler emphasized that delivering an integrated marketing product that provided value to exhibitors was also the most practicable way to ensuring your own profitability. He noted that at Cygnus, expo business revenues were expected to increase 5.5% in 2006, and advertising revenues 4.1%. But online revenues were growing at 22.1%.
Extending the view farther, Mackler estimated that Cygnus's growth from ads would average 4.3% CAGR between 2004-2009, with expos slightly better at 5.8% CAGR. But the major growth again came from online, with a projected CAGR of 18.7%.
Mackler spent a good amount of his talk explaining the challenges of moving Cygnus from a publishing company, circa 2000, where 95% of revenue was print ads, to a company with diversified revenue streams, where today less than 75% of revenue is from print ads, with that percentage continuing to decrease each year.
The "new" Cygnus organization was achieved through:
- developing a culture of collaboration instead of competition
- streamlining top heavy management structures
- realigning portfolios along industry lines
- creating compensation plans that aligned with the new culture
- focusing on creating marketing leading franchises
- improving communications between divisions, between management levels and between Cygnus and all of its customers.
Perhaps the best explanation for this success was Mackler noting that collaboration equals leverage. According to Mackler, the new culture of collaboration at Cygnus does the following:
- helps build brands
- encourages sharing of market and customer data and intelligence
- enables joint franchise development
- provides ability to develop integrated media programs
- helps unearth new opportunities
- allows you to become more important to customers and markets
- drives revenues, profits and margins
- helps you to better serve the evolving needs of your customers.
If this is the "kinder, gentler" Paul Mackler than the one we heard about at CMC and Reed, we like him.
The second keynoter was Barbara Tulipane of the Electronic Retailing Association, a 15-year old assocaition with a legacy of primarily representing the infomercial industry, but which has seen significant growth in membership by online retailers.
Tulipane spent a significant part of her presentation talking about her association's particular issues with the FCC (the infomercial industry being dominated by more less-than-ethical profit-mongerers than even the show industry of old).
However, there were a number of interesting nuggets in her talk, particularly as she noted how she had to rebuild the credibility of the industry through the association while proving the association's value to members who questioned its need - many were reluctant members as the assocation for the most part was a creation mandated by the FCC.
Tulipane's most revealing statistics came in the post-session Q&A. She noted that her association's members now generate 40%-50% of their revenue from online sales on average. Tulipane noted that QVC is the world's largest online retailer.
The ECEF opening reception was held at the Renaissance on Wednesday evening. It appeared that about 2/3 of registrants were in the house enjoy an open bar (with actual top-shelf hootch!) and light hors d'ourvre.
Walking these things with a camera in one hand and a drink in the other is always a bit dicey, but we snapped off a few keepers. For most of the photos, the alt text for each image offers a very brief description if you don't recognize the characters.
As we were saying... Las Vegas can't have everything. But apparently they won't stop trying to get everything. At the minimum they seem to be happy to play the foil for shows looking to use Vegas as leverage to get out of existing agreements.
Which is exactly what the National Restaurant Association appears to be doing. The NRA has threatened to leave Chicago - the show's home for the past 56 years - to go to Las Vegas, a wannabe restaurant town where numerous celebrity chefs have sattelite locations in the city's many casinos (but virtually no standalone restaurants merit a whiff of attention).
The NRA folks wanted new labor rules concerning the number of workers needed to perform certain tasks. It appears they got those breaks with the new contract negotiated with between McCormick Place and the Riggers union.
The contract only affects the riggers union, not the other four unions with convention center workers. It does not address jurisdiction among them.
But Ms. Davis said she hoped it will set a precedent when the decorators union contract expires June 30 and the Teamsters and carpenters unions’ contracts expire in 2008.
The contract follows an agreement announced a year ago that created a Labor Management Council to mediate disputes among exhibitors, McCormick Place officials and unions.
Elements of the contract that could cut costs include:
- Lowering the wage scale on Saturdays from double time to time and a half. Work on Sunday will still be counted at double time.
- Straight time for crews that start work at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. on weekdays. The status quo was shifts beginning only early in the morning.
- Formalizing two-person work crews for most jobs, a standard first established unofficially a year ago, said Eric Dean, administrator of Local 136. Equipment with capacities heavier than 15,000 pounds will still require three-person crews, Ms. Davis said.
- A “call by name” provision that allows contractors or exhibitors to ask for specific workers instead of being forced to take whoever the union sends them.
They are also looking for breaks from hotels and marketing support, which they have not yet received, so leaving remains a possibility.
The article also suggests Chicago lags behind other cities in providing marketing support. We have yet to see any city truly assist in delivering measureable attendee marketing. Have you? If so, let us know some examples.
CoffeeFest is an indie run event from a (somewhat cocky) group in Seattle. I'd guess the DC event was about 300 booths or so. They do everything in house, including designing their own reg software. Their DC show looked like a pretty typical mid-budget affair, but we were less interested in the show than in the Mid-Atlantic Barista Competition and the Millrock Latte Art Competitions, both of which featured baristi from our little joint, first time Pittsburgh represented at either.
The owner of CoffeeFest, David Heilbrun, is generally considered a hero in the industry for providing several venues (generally 3x year - East/West/Central) for baristi and coffeehouse owners to meet suppliers. He's viewed as a facilitator. Few if any in the specialty coffee industry begrudge him whatever he makes on his shows.
The SCAA event was 830 booths give or take. It was a bit more upscale, with some superb parties. It was very much like AD:TECH in that there exists an easily identifiable group of thought leaders who influenced traffic at the booths they deigned 'worthy'.
The SCAA doesn't generate the same love that CoffeeFest does. In fact, lately the association seems to be more a liability than an asset as it pertains to the industry's largest show. And everyone is a critic about everything the association does. Particularly its reliance on the annual event for most of its revenue.
Thus it was the SCAA event where I got a lesson on how show attendees are forcing change in their association.
The SCAA has been plagued by mismanagement and worse over the past year and change. To suggest the association is troubled would be an understatement. Nevertheless, the SCAA's incoming president, Rob Stephen, who developed Dunkin' Donuts program for sustainable coffee purchasing, was on two podcasts (CoffeeGeek and Portafilter.net) during last week's national convention. And his candor seems to have changed some people's opinions about the SCAA in a positive way.
According to CoffeeGeek, it appears the 'old school' at the SCAA didn't like their new president going "outside traditional media channels" one bit, claiming podcasts were "amateurish and inappropriate."
The SCAA has an online forum. But it's the smallest of any of the players. CoffeeGeek has a much more active and larger one, as does Home-Barista. The new Barista Guild of America was created to give baristi a greater voice vis a vis shop owners and suppliers and while hosted by the SCAA, the BGA has its own agenda as evidenced by its forum. And there are at least 52 active blogs in the specialty coffee space, plus the two aforementioned regular podcasts.
The number of voices and the numerous opinions shared by the more than 1,000 baristi, coffeehouse owners, suppliers and others who participate in these online forums and read these blogs are in and of themselves, an alternative to having to go to an association for education. There is so much knowledge openly shared and available online it's a wonder anyone pays for any kind of consulting.
Being an astute businessperson, I'd imagine Rob Stephen sees the writing on the wall. This is an industry that's moving forward with much greater velocity than its association, which is being viewed less as leadership and more as sticks in the mud.
Stephen's choosing to use the podcasts, whether approved by the SCAA or not, was an ideal way to begin to fix the relationship between the SCAA and its constituents. And in this case, it appears to have been absolutely necessary.
for those who weren't in the tech/media early adopters of podcasts - and especially those in associations - this should be fair warning that podcasts just came of age.
It's an interesting use of GoogleMaps. Whether it's worth anything to attendees is yet to be proven. For exhibitors, viewing the attendee distribution via the map should allow them to staff appropriately with the applicable regional reps or distributors, if that's an option.
Not to bust anyone's chops, but technically this isn't a mashup, which involves integrating two technologies. What the VoIP event is doing is creatively using GoogleMaps.
If you want to do the same for your event, you can figure out GoogleMaps or just start here.
If you're interested in seeing the VoIP attendance distribution, here's the map (note - it may take a long time for all the little flags to load).
Bonus - while Dana takes issue with claims from a new CES exhibitor, the exhibitor responds directly on Dana's comments. 'Tis a great example to show how blogs are used to both opine and respond/clarify. The company, NetBlender, offers Dana a challenge... will be interesting to see how this pans out.
Interesting story on an after-hours party at the Southeast Building Conference where four exhibitors got together as co-hosts.
While the story implies that none of the four were particularly thrilled with their results from having only a booth at the show, when they each invested $10K for a $40K party, lead acquisition went through the roof and business followed.
Now they're looking for sponsorship dollars to make it even bigger. Which would sort of put them in competition for available sponsor dollars. But in our view, that seems perfectly logical.
Something to think about, both for exhibitors and organizers.